I’m ten years old. I’m sitting on the floor of our living room watching my mom hold my sister as they both cry. In between sobs, my sister tells us how badly she feels about herself and her body. We had just finished watching Oprah. It’s what we did together, the three of us. The topic, like many of Oprah’s episodes, was about body image. This struck a cord for my sister with her up and down weight, and she broke down. My mom, being the supportive woman that she has always been, took out a garbage bag and went through our pantry and cabinets, throwing out all the cookies and chips and junk food.
I watched this happen around me. I watched these huge, pain-filled tears fall out of my sister’s eyes and I didn’t understand. Why would she feel this way? Why does she hate her body so much? She’s beautiful. She’s athletic. She’s always on the honor roll. All of her teachers and friends love her. I didn’t get it.
Now, I’d be lying if I said I never looked at a model and thought, “I wish I had her body.” However, I was never too too hard on myself. I self-depricated because that’s what girls did and for a while, I believed the mean things I told myself. I mean, who am I to love my body even though my stomach has never been flat and my thighs jiggle when I walk? And then one day in my early 20’s, something in me snapped, or clicked. I was fed up. Am I going to have to hate my body forever? It suddenly became so clearly illogical for me to hate my body. Why am I doing this to myself? It’s exhausting! Can I just accept that I’ll never be a size two and spend my time being happy with myself? So I did.
It was many small moments that led up to this a-ha moment. I’ll never forget this one time in college when my friend Brittney and I were getting ready to go out. We were in her dorm room and she made a comment about how she doesn’t call her love handles, her “love handles.” She refers to them as her “sexiness.” She has them, she loves her body and that’s that. So simple. It made so much sense. I loved her confidence…and still do! The same holds true for my sister now. She is far from the young girl who needed reassuring hugs from my mom. If only all women were lucky enough to grow out of this stage and carry forward a healthy and happy self-esteem.
If you don’t already, I challenge you to look in the mirror and accept yourself. This is you. This is who you are. If you want to make changes, go for it. Make changes out of love for yourself, not out of hate. Here’s the important part…accept your current self at the same time. You’ll be so much happier.
Special thanks to my sister and Brittney for allowing me to share their stories.